Rebel golf heads to Hawaii for tournament play

Posted on Nov 1 2017 - 8:00am by Ethan Wright

SUGAR GROVE, IL – MAY 29: Ole Miss Rebels’ Braden Thornberry plays the ball from the tee during round four of the 2017 Division I Men’s Golf Championships on May 29, 2017 at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Illinois. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Icon Sportswire) (Icon Sportswire via AP Images)

Though most view Hawaii as a tropical destination state, the Ole Miss golf teams won’t get a chance to do much relaxing there. Both the men’s and women’s teams are currently competing in separate tournaments in the Aloha State.

The men’s team’s early success was due in large part to a season-best 35 birdies through the first two rounds of the Warrior Princeville Makai Invitational. Senior Kerry Sweeney, who accounted for eight of those birdies, was individually tied for sixth heading into the final round.

Led by a career-best 11-under round from Sweeney, the men’s team was tied for eighth place heading into Tuesday’s final round.

Standing in stark contrast to the men’s impressive start, junior star Braden Thornberry appears to have entered a noticeable midseason slump. Despite carding his first eagle of the season during the second round, Thornberry failed to preserve that momentum and settled into a seven-way tie for 53rd at 1-under heading into Tuesday’s climactic round.

On the next island over, the women’s team, which flew to Hawaii with the men’s team a few days ahead of its own tournament, took time to enjoy its surroundings and make the necessary preparations ahead of the Rainbow Wahine Invitational opening.

Following consecutive team and individual titles at the Magnolia Invitational and Palmetto Intercollegiate, a feat never before accomplished in the team’s 32 years of existence, Ole Miss women’s golf hopes to close out its most impressive autumn in recent history.

With a different top-finisher in each of its fall tournaments, the women’s team has relied on its incredible depth and balance to produce results. Freshman phenom Julia Johnson and junior standout Diane Lim are both coming off individual titles, with fellow freshman Connor Beth Ball nabbing two top-five finishes thus far this season. Rounding out the Rebels’ eye-catching roster are junior Kie Purdom and sophomore Pi-Lillebi Hermansson, each of whom shot career-best rounds this fall.

Although this year marks just the fifth time the Rebels have participated in the Rainbow Wahine Invitational, the group’s most recent performance in the Hawaiian tournament, a fourth-place finish in 2015, yielded the highest finish in Ole Miss women’s golf history.

Momentum can change a match’s dynamic in the blink of an eye. Luckily, both the men’s and women’s programs seem to have plenty of it as their respective tournaments grind down to the wire. Rewriting the record books en route to tournament success and nationwide recognition, Rebel golf continues to maintain its upward momentum. Now, only time will tell how far that momentum will carry the teams’ talented collection of golfers.